Postpartum depression in rats causes poor maternal care and neurochemical alterations on dams and long-lasting impairment in sociability on the offspring
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Postpartum depression is a mentally disabling disease with multifactorial etiology that affects women worldwide. It can also influence child development and lead to behavioral and cognitive alterations. Despite the high prevalence, the disease is underdiagnosed and poorly studied. To study the postpartum depression caused by maternal separation model in rats, dams were separated from their litter for 3 h daily starting from lactating day (LD) 2 through LD12. Maternal studies were conducted from LD5 to LD21 and the offspring studies from postnatal day (PND) 2 through PND90. The stress caused by the dam-offspring separation led to poor maternal care and a transient increase in anxiety in the offspring detected during infancy. The female offspring also exhibited a permanent impairment in sociability during adult life. These changes were associated with neurochemical alterations in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, and low TSH concentrations in the dams, and in the hypothalamus, hippocampus and striatum of the offspring. These results indicate that the postpartum depression resulted in a depressive phenotype, changes in the brain neurochemistry and in thyroid economy that remained until the end of lactation. Changes observed in the offspring were long-lasting and resemble what is observed in children of depressant mothers.
Magalhães JZ, Abreu G, Fukushima A, Pantaleon L, Ribeiro B, Munhoz C, et al. Postpartum depression in rats causes poor maternal care and neurochemical alterations on dams and long-lasting impairment in sociability on the offspring. Behav Brain Res. . doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2022.114082.
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